23 February, 2012

Excerpt from Ash Wednesday service

Is there anything in your life that is holding you back? Keeping you stuck? Somehow keeping you from being exactly the person you want to be?

Maybe it’s hurt. Maybe it’s grief. Maybe it’s anger.

I keep thinking about this thing like a fist-sized place in the center of our bodies. It’s a spot that, if scratched, may cause feeling—you may start crying and never stop, you may go into a rage, you may shrivel up in the fetal position and never move. In order to protect that spot, we adopt all kinds of behaviors: walls, defenses, magic spells, busy-ness, silence, isolation, lying, obsession, disease… we will do anything we can to protect that spot. Because we’re afraid of what it will do.

Pema Chödrön wrote:

Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.

Our job is to defeat fear, so that we can release that fist-sized place in our bodies, so that we can be the person that God is calling us to be. My challenge to you this Lenten season is to conquer fear and deal with breaking down those protections for that place inside of you.

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